In a world where the average American throws away 4.5 pounds of trash a day, plastic-eating microbes can be used to remove dangerous products from the environment. While recycling does remove the products, it also is an intensive process that can use almost as many resources as it would to make the offset negligible in terms of environmental practices. Meanwhile, microbes would not take up those resources, making them a better option than recycling.
No, plastic-eating microbes should not replace recycling as a means to reduce plastic waste. Microbes are inefficient at breaking down plastic without having genetic engineering done. Also, these microbes are not native to all parts of the world and introducing non-native species can have unforeseeable environmental effects. The best solution to reducing plastic waste in landfills is introducing better recycling programs in conjunction with microbial solutions.
With the massive amount of plastic waste produced daily, and the mountains and islands of it in our landfills and oceans, I feel we need multiple measures to combat further plastic waste. We should recycle what we can, when we can, but plastic will always slip through the cracks and wind up in the trash. Perhaps we should use plastic-eating microbes on that plastic.
Recycling is one way to help the earth by reusing its limited resources. If microbes can eat plastic and further reduce the waste that we produce all the time, then they should be used in addition to recycling, not instead of recycling. The earth needs all the help that it can get to reduce the amount of waste and trash.